You get one of the most amazing movies ever, that's what you get.
Of course, I'm obviously biased. Not everyone would agree. I just watched Far and Away for the first time a week ago -- it was one of those oh hey, this might be good movies randomly plucked out of the library's musty VHS section -- and from the very first I was completely swept away. Even now I can't seem to pull my mind off it for very long. (Of course, listening to the soundtrack all day long isn't helping...but then I didn't ask you, did I?) I want to jump into that world and be part of the story, live the excitement.
Really, when was the last time I went so ga-ga over a movie? I'm thinking it was probably Legends of the Fall back in January -- the after effects were much the same. Quoting the characters incessantly, pinning all the pictures I can find on Pinterest, listening to the soundtrack multiple times every day. Yes, my friends, let me confirm something for you: I am crazy.
I just can't watch a movie and love it so much and not have SOME of that obsession leak out on The Blog. So here I am to tell you all about it, in the most coherent way I can manage, which I must warn you isn't very. So settle in and put on some nice music (can I recommend this soundtrack?) and we'll have ourselves a grand old time. (Oh, and Olivia gets to sit by me because she's seen this movie too.) :-D
I've said it once and I will continue to say it -- Far and Away is pretty much the most beautiful thing you ever saw.
The movie begins in Ireland, where Joseph Donnelly (a very young and very hunky Tom Cruise) is a poor tenant farmers' son who dreams of owning his own land someday. Shannon Christie (Nicole Kidman) is the pampered daughter of the wealthy landlord who owns the Donnelly's land. When Joseph's father is shot in a street brawl and their house is burned down by a land agent, Joseph sets out to avenge these actions by killing the man he believes responsible -- Daniel Christie. This is how he meets Shannon and, eventually, ends up accompanying her when she runs away from home and boards a ship bound for America.
Perhaps what I loved most about this movie -- it's unconventional. Yes, the main storyline is a romance, and it has a lot of the usual elements of a drama, but then there's sooooooo much that you don't expect. There's so much MORE. It's period drama, it's western, it's almost romantic comedy. It's so FUNNY and WEIRD and EXCITING and BEAUTIFUL and FEELSY. (I told you, my thoughts aren't very professionally organized.)
Let's talk about Joseph and Shannon.
These two are something. Joseph is a poor farmer's son, Shannon a wealthy landlord's daughter, so they've been raised on opposite ends of the social spectrum. But they share a common dream -- land. Shannon runs away from home with the hope of getting some of the 'free land' the US government is offering out West, and when Joe gets pulled along he decides to pursue the dream his father encouraged when he was on his deathbed. (That there was a funny scene.) However, upon reaching America they discover it won't be as easy as they thought. Shannon realizes how unrealistic her dream was, and Joe discovers his natural ability as a prize fighter, as well as learns to handle a man's responsibilities.
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman really have something going on here. (No wonder they got married after this movie was made.) The chemistry between them is epic, their interactions priceless. Joseph is a fairly simple man by nature, besides being raised in poverty, whereas Shannon is a bit of a spitfire and is used to getting what she wants. What I love so much about their relationship (besides everything about them) is how, through all they endure together, they get to know each other in such an intimate way. And I'm not talking about a physical way -- one of the things about this movie that made me wildly happy is how there's no sex scene -- I'm talking about the way they really know and care about one another. I'm talking about how they learn each other's little idiosyncrasies, the things that bother them, the things that make them happy. I'm talking about how Shannon got up on that platform dressed as a burlesque dancer the night of Joe's big fight; how Joe left her with her parents in Boston after she was shot, knowing it was unlikely he'd ever see her again. Their love story is completely unconventional, and completely beautiful. That's why Joseph and Shannon are possibly my favorite film romance. Ever.
Besides these two, there are quite a few interesting characters prancing through the movie, some played by fairly recognizable actors. Colm Meaney was in it, of course. They don't make an Irish movie that Colm Meaney isn't involved with. ;-P And what do you know, Shannon's mother was played by Dorothy from Dr. Quinn! That was pretty interesting. Shannon's nutty father was super familiar, but I can't think what else I've seen him in.
My favorite part of the entire movie is the 'Inside the Mansion' scene. Joe and Shannon break into some rich person's house on a snowy night after they've been wandering the streets for three days, and Joe tells Shannon to sit at the table so he can serve her. Ohhhhh my stars and stripes. "No, Joseph. Sit with me. Let's pretend this is our house-- that you're my husband, and I'm your wife." GAAAAHHHHHHHHH. I cannot even describe the feels and shivers sent through my entire being while the two of them sat there and looked into each other's eyes, with the snow twinkling outside, and then when Joe said, "I'll pretend I love you"....Oh, someone hold me. I have never seen anything so beautiful in all my living life. Most romantic scene in any movie, ever? Undoubtedly. I think so, anyway.
AND THE LAND RACE. Oh my goodnessssss!!!! This scene is so epic. I just sat there with my eyes popping, clutching a pillow to my heart, squirming like a little kid and making all kinds of unladylike noises. (I really am terrible when it comes to exciting movies. I have been known to scream at anything I think is particularly wonderful. I may or may not have screamed at the end of this movie, and my dad may or may not have been trying to sleep in the next room.)
BUT THE ENDING. Watch this movie, and you will understand that any and all screaming is justified. If you haven't watched it, you cannot possibly understand. (Emma, that's not the kind of thing you're supposed to say in movie reviews.) ;-P Let me just say that I really dig movies where characters get really really close to dying and then miraculously survive. True, in this case it's totally unrealistic. Do I care? HECK NO. "All I know is Joseph loves his Shannon." Don't even try to tell me it isn't the most romantic thing you ever saw, because I will not pay you any mind. ;-P The last scene was everything I could have wanted to wrap up this unbelievably glorious movie -- which I didn't want to ever end anyway, I might add -- and when Joseph and Shannon stuck that flag in the ground, on their land, I did scream. I admit it. I screamed of pure joy and happiness.
Other things I loved about Far and Away....
~ The whole Irish feel that resonates throughout. The actors all did an incredible job with the accents, even the ones who aren't Irish -- somewhere I read someone's opinion that the accents were terrible, but I couldn't disagree more! Listening to Tom Cruise speak in an Irish accent is like drinking a hot peppermint tea on a chilly night. (By the way, have I mentioned that I am now somewhat of a Tom Cruise fan? This was my first Tom Cruise movie. It will most assuredly not be my last.)
|...and Tom Cruise as an Irish cowboy? Could it possibly get any better?|
~ THE MUSIC. The caps are totally necessary for this one, trust me! John Williams hardly ever disappoints, but this score is exceptionally glorious. There's a reason I've been listening to it constantly for the past five days. The music blends Irish pipes, tinkling piano, and big, broad orchestrations that embody the Western paradise Joe and Shannon dreamed of. It's perfect for the movie and pretty much perfect on its own too. Whatever saint who put the whole thing on Youtube has my undying gratitude. Go listen to it. (As a friend of mine said, I say this because I care about you.)
~ For being the type of movie it was -- a romantic drama from the 90's -- it was surprisingly clean as far as sexual content goes. There was no sex scene, which made me ridiculously happy. There are a few slightly suggestive parts, one being a (rather ridiculous) scene where Joseph is wounded and lying in bed in the Christie's house and Mrs. Christie puts a bowl over...a certain part...of his otherwise naked body. It doesn't actually show anything, as the subject is what's not shown, but obviously that is a little weird. There's also a scene where Joseph and Shannon are undressing in the room they share at a boarding house (which is, oh yeah, actually a brothel -- I was going to mention that too.) It's a rather awkward moment, not in a suggestive way, but in more of a "Oh my, here we are in the same room taking off our clothes and this is super weird." Still, you might want to turn away because there's some partial-nudity. The movie has some language -- they're Irish, I mean really, it's to be expected -- and some of the boxing scenes get really violent, and while that's certainly inappropriate for some audiences, I was happy that there was no unnecessary icky stuff. It is rated PG-13, I'm assuming for language and violence and partial nudity. But as far as being actually offensive, I didn't find it so at all.
~ Shannon's hair. Very random, but I thought I'd mention it cuz it's just really great. :-D
~ The era was so vividly depicted in every scene, from the costumes to the conditions of the dingy Boston streets and the gilded manners of the rich opposite the rustic manners of the poor. Watching is is literally like jumping into 1892 for a few hours, which is so much fun.
~ The magical-feel of several of the scenes. I don't mean literal 'magic'-- I mean more of a metaphorical magic. (Goodness, my thought processes are so hard for ME to follow, I can't imagine the struggle you all have.) The only other movie I can think of as an example is The Little Princess. You know how there are elements of that story that come alive in sort of an imaginary, magical way? That's how Far and Away was. It gave me that same tingly, magical, twinkly feeling. Sort of like the excitement of being a little girl mingled with the thrill of an adult romance. That's the best way I can think to put it. :-D
Fun fact: this movie is directed by Ron Howard. Otherwise known as Opie Taylor. That's right. Little Opie!
What else can I say? Far and Away swept me far and away with its beauty and scope. It made me sigh, laugh, shriek, and almost cry. (I would have cried, only the whole tone of the movie is relatively lighthearted, so I hadn't worked myself up to crying. Just in case you were wondering.) I watched it a week ago and I'm still just as immersed in that world, so that should tell you something of what an impact it had on me. :-) At the moment, it's my favorite movie. That may or may not change in the future, but one thing won't -- this movie is something special, friends.
Short version: I loved it. I will be watching it again. The end.
Have you seen Far and Away?
Did you love it as much as I did (and do and forever will)?